(Written by Mark H. Avery)
In this series, I have been sharing my own personal story in the LEGO hobby, including slowly building up a collection of sets from the 1970s to the 1990s, and constructing our own LEGO city. If you like you can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 by clicking on the links. For today’s chapter, I will switch from talking about the history and context of the city to discussing the current layout. Note that this layout is constantly evolving, so this is just a snapshot of where the city is today…
➡ CURRENT LEGO CITY LAYOUT…
The current layout is about 15 baseplates by 18 baseplates (12.5 x 15 feet). In addition, there are 3-4 shelves on three walls with additional roads and buildings. Five shelves on one wall are about a baseplate and quarter deep. Three and a half shelves on the facing wall are two baseplates plates (20 inches) deep. The back wall has five shelves 1.5 baseplates deep, while the front wall has only two shelves, each two baseplates deep. (Together this provides another 100 or more square feet of space.) Just about every inch is occupied by buildings.
Like with the previous layout we had before the fire, you walk into the “water” at the front of the room surrounded by a marina, docks, and a small beach. Stepping over some road-plates takes you to the first of two cutouts, surrounded by buildings, some five or six stories tall. In addition, dozens of buildings are waiting for space, and I have about 20-30 built cars and train cars piled in a closet that could also be added to the layout. I also have more unopened sets, but I’m seriously running out of space. Like many other LEGO fans, I’ve created a story (and a little brochure) to explain the existence of my city. It goes like this:
Legoland is the county seat of Jeremy County, located in the scenic northeastern part of the state. It serves as the business, transportation, governmental, and entertainment/ recreation capital of the county and region. The town is located at the head of the C-Esta River, which separates Port LEGO from the rest of the town. The town is located in a valley surrounded by fairly steep mountains. As such, there is only one major road into town – Riverside Drive. The town is roughly divided into several neighborhoods:
- Port LEGO (across the river from most of the town) includes the major dock area and various freight shipping facilities and trucking services. Freight can be offloaded from ships to either train or truck for distribution. The area includes its own police and fire stations. It is connected to the rest of town by auto and train bridges.
- Riverside is the area of town along the river that most people first encounter. (That’s where the town’s visitors’ center and marina are located, as well as several businesses and waterfront homes.)
- Downtown lies just beyond Riverside and the water. Most of the major stores, office buildings, and government agencies are located in the downtown district, as are several luxury apartment houses.
- The Lake area offers rustic lakefront housing, boating, and upscale stores.
- Uptown is the location of the sports arena, a park, and many private homes.
- Upper Legoland is an industrial area, but includes the racetrack, private houses, and ‘old town’.
- Upper Port LEGO includes the airport area, the zoo, and some small stores and private homes.
➡ LEGO CITY INFRASTRUCTURE…
The brochure continues, describing various town elements in Legoland:
- Transportation and Communications: The town is served by various bus services that operate both within the town and on interurban routes. It is also the home of Legoland Airport, which is the regional airport with both scheduled passenger and light cargo air service. Private planes also land and serviced there. There is also a heliport on the outskirts of town. WJCH-TV, channel 96 is based in town and offers extensive coverage of local news. The Legoland News is published each day and circulates throughout the county.
- Public Health and Safety: Because the town services the entire county, it has several police and fire stations and two large hospitals, including a trauma center. Ambulances (and a medivac helicopter) from town serve the entire region. A police emergency control center located downtown likewise serves the entire area, as does a mobile command unit. Legoland is considered a very safe environment in which to live or visit, with police patrolling on foot, scooter, car, and even horseback.
- Leisure Time Activities: The town has much to offer to both residents and visitors. The river and lake are a major attraction with a large marina and boat rental, as well as several fishing areas. There is also a small beach along the river for swimming. The town features a large park with a horse stable, a small town zoo, and a four-screen movie theatre. There are also several smaller parks, and a public swimming pool located on the roof of one of the larger buildings. Picnicking is available in the parks along the riverfront, and on top of the waterfalls. There is also a large arena, which is used mainly for soccer but is also the scene of concerts and large meetings. The biggest entertainment site in town is the world-class motor racetrack.
- Retail Shopping: The town is the retail center of the county. Several large stores (including Target) are based here; many are located along Peri Street. There is a car dealer, a motorcycle dealer, bicycle shop, and various other retail establishments. There are many small stores in town as well, along with several gasoline stations (Exxon, Shell, and Octan brands). Several construction companies are also based in the town. As a tourist town, Legoland has many restaurants, with a wide variety of menus. At the top of the river (near the falls) are several cafes, with nightly entertainment. Other cafes are scattered throughout the area. The town is served by the Legoland Hotel in Upper Legoland, and by a motel located at the airport entrance.
- Business and Industry: Manufacturing includes a paper company, a Coca-Cola bottling plant, the Lowe Quality Manufacturing Co., a Shell Oil Transshipment facility (modeled after #149 LEGO Fuel Refinery from 1976), and both an Esta’s Cookies and Entennman’s Bakeries. There are several large office buildings located in downtown (mainly on Main Street and Robin Street) which house accountants, lawyers, and other professionals. Some buildings also provide office space for the many state and local government agencies located in town.
- Housing: While much of the daytime population of Legoland is made up of tourists and residents of surrounding towns and farms, the town does have a variety of housing ranging from elegant riverfront and mountain homes to small private houses and apartment houses. One of the newest buildings in town is an eight-story luxury condominium building, located at the edge of downtown.
- The Future: While land for future development is very limited, new construction is still taking place. Many of the newest buildings are multi-story, to take better advantage of the usable space. Population grows at a varied pace, with new residents and commuters helping fill the streets. The town recently further developed its’ lakefront area for recreational boating, surfboarding and fishing.
➡ SPECIFIC AREAS OF MY LEGO CITY…
Some examples of special areas in Legoland include the downtown section with about twelve buildings, all five to eight stories tall. Some are based on ideas lifted off the internet, but they’re all MOCs (My Own Creations) in some sense. Since this is a fairly modern city, they are pretty basic buildings without much trim. Three were designed as condos (with terraces for at least some apartments), while the rest are office buildings. One serves as police headquarters and as the city’s emergency response coordination center for the region.
The airport is an L-shaped area on a top shelf. It’s 2 baseplates wide and 7 baseplates long. It includes a passenger terminal with a control tower on top of it five stories up, a cargo delivery center, an operations building, and a hangar. There are several airport service vehicles in the area. Just outside the airport, you can find a motel (Jeremy’s Inn) and a parking lot. I have about a half dozen planes (none of the huge ones), so the runway can get crowded.
For a while, LEGO was pitching the sports theme, especially soccer. However, eventually, some of those sets went on sale. Thus, I have a soccer field from the #3409 LEGO Championship Challenge (with more of the same set in storage), together with several of the transport van sets from the #3405 LEGO Blue Team Bus, a number of #3402 LEGO Soccer Stand with Lights sets, the #3408 LEGO Super Sports Coverage overhead TV crane, and a beautiful front to my stadium that was built after seeing one on exhibit outside of a LEGO store. There are also several women’s soccer team sets (still in storage) and a number of basketball players roaming around town. Outside the stadium is a basketball court from the #3431 LEGO Streetball 2 vs. 2 set that I picked up at a garage sale.
I purchased multiple copies of the #7595 LEGO Toy Story Army Men on Patrol set, each with a jeep, equipment, and four soldiers (LEGO refuses to make realistic military sets). I replaced the green minifig heads with standard yellow ones, and built the Fort Yafa Army Reserve Base out of tan bricks, and named it after my sister, Yafa (like I did in my childhood with my toy soldier army base). I added trailers to some of the jeeps and built a troop carrier, a water tanker, and a very old looking army ambulance. Some of the soldiers are assigned to provide extra security at the airport.
The #6395 LEGO Victory Lap Raceway set from 1988 came with two road-plates. It now has its own shelf, spread over eight road-plates with grandstands, a support building, an entranceway, and other support parts.
The town zoo is 2.5 x 6 baseplates long. It contains an entranceway with turnstiles, a small gift shop, and a viewing tower. There is a barn, an aviary, a snake display, a kiddy tram, and a pedestrian bridge, which crosses the creek that runs through the zoo and provides water to the animals. There are animal cages (most too small) and a ‘grassy field’ that is too small for all the animals I keep adding. Already built, but waiting for space, are a dolphin pool with viewing area and a penguin enclosure.
Given that so many LEGO sets come with helicopters, there is a heliport located up on a top shelf that is unfortunately not easy to reach.
Besides these special areas, there are houses and stores spread throughout town. Part of the idea is to have normal everyday buildings, not all unique ones. Just part of my town planning philosophy.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Next time, I will discuss some of the specific LEGO sets that are part of (or the source of bricks for) the current layout. Your comments, questions, and feedback are welcome. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Mark H. Avery is a LEGO Town/City builder and collector for over 30 years. This is the first of a series that will trace his personal LEGO experiences and offer his personal insights on LEGO related issues. All opinions are his own.
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